Forget the culture and history. Forgo culinary delights. The real reason to visit Europe is its stunning beaches.
From the glamour of Cannes to the rugged terrain of the UK’s cliffs, our guide to LGBTQ+ friendly beach holidays will help you plan your next sunny vacation. With beaches suitable for families or quietly listening to the waves as you top up your tan, plus the best gay friendly European party beaches, use this guide to discover where to go – and the best LGBTQ+ friendly hotels to stay in.
Mykonos has cemented itself as one of the best party destinations in the world. Late night clubs turn into sunrise parties, with its impressive beaches the ideal place to recharge. Known as an LGBTQ+ destination, Elia Beach is the island’s longest sandy beach with sunbeds for hire, restaurants, bars and water activities available.
Where to stay? Small yet beautifully appointed. The TownHouse Mykonos has just 19 rooms but is perfect for those seeking a more intimate Greek holiday or peace and quiet after a night’s clubbing. Enjoy views of the Aegean Sea from the rooftop @54 Bar and Sunset Lounge.
The postcard ideal of a Greek island, Santorini is home to the white painted walls and blue domed buildings seen on almost every influencers’ Instagram feeds. Its volcanic past has resulted in many black sand and pebble beaches – all perfectly safe to swim and sunbathe at.
Where to stay? Part of the Unbound Collection by global hotel brand Hyatt, Magma Resort Santorini offers stunning sea views from various vantage points around the resort. Set amidst traditional vineyards, its Lava Wellness and Spa pays homage to its ancient volcano location.
St Julian’s, Malta
Take some of Europe’s best nightlife and combine it with pebbled beaches and you’ll have stumbled across the magic of St Julian’s. Head to LGBTQ+ friendly Pembroke Beach (some areas, clothing optional) or visit St George’s Bayfor some sand between your toes.
Where to stay? Head to Corinthia St George’s Bay for the ultimate water-lovers retreat. The resort has six swimming pools, a private lido and enough water sports to keep you busy. Thankfully, there’s also hammocks dotted around the grounds for you to ponder which pool to head to next.
Italy’s famous boot shape offers plenty of beaches and sea views, and arguments may rage as to the very best – but the beaches of Naples are near the top of any list. Take a sea kayak out from Gaiola Beach, or head further from the city to Leranto Bay – there’s so many different beaches to choose from, holidaymakers can enjoy a different beach every day!
Where to stay? Located around 400m from Mappatella Beach, the Grand Hotel Parker’s in Naples was the city’s first luxury hotel. Finish your day at the beach with a cocktail from the Bond Point Bar – 283 choices inspired by the James Bond stories, and marvel at the draw-dropping view over the Bay of Naples.
Nice may have a stronger beach reputation, but for soft golden sands as glamorous as its reputation, Cannes is the place to go. There’s a mixture of public and private beaches, some great for families, others more relaxed, so be sure to do your research on which Cannes beach best suits you.
Where to stay? The Five Seas Hotel Cannes is just a short walk from the picturesque Croisette Beach. This 5-star boutique hotel boasts a rooftop infinity pool and bar lounge, perfect to watch the sunset from. Guests can also take to the sea with a cruise in the hotel’s yacht.
In the west of Madeira’s capital city Funchal, Praia Formosa offers four beaches in one! Each intimate option encapsulates Madeira’s laid-back atmosphere and ranges from a mixture of sand and pebbles, to what can best be described as rocky. The area is home to Cristiano Ronaldo’s burgeoning business empire, and probably one of the key reasons he always looks so tanned.
Where to stay? NEXT By Savoy Signature in Madeira’s capital, Funchal, has two sea swimming pools (one for families and one adults only), plus an outdoor rooftop pool complete with underwater sound system.
Whether you are seeking a week of partying to the world’s best DJs, a yoga retreat or a combination of the two, Ibiza provides all you could want from a seaside holiday. Playa de es Cavallet’s sandy shores are home to a fabulous nudist beach, while Talamanca’s curved sandy beach is framed by a wooden boardwalk lined with bars and restaurants.
Where to stay? The 5-star Ibiza Gran Hotel blends old town charm with dazzling views of the Bay of Ibiza, Dalt Vila and neighbouring island Formentera. As well as a luxurious spa, the hotel has two swimming pools (one adults only).